BELLINGHAM - Blaine coach Jay Dodd made it clear after the game: His Borderites were fortunate to escape Civic Stadium with a win.
Six turnovers - three inside the red zone - doesn't usually bode well for a football team, but Blaine's dominant offensive line, coupled with its defensive play down the stretch was enough to hold off Bellingham's late offensive fireworks.
The No. 7-ranked team in Class 1A overcame three Nate Kramme interceptions and three Mario Gobbato fumbles to knock off the Red Raiders 36-28 in a non-league game Friday, Sept. 21, at Civic Stadium.
"We didn't play very well," Dodd admitted after the game. "Right now, we're an undisciplined team with the football."
Blaine (3-1, 0-0 NWC) may have made costly errors on a regular basis, but its rushing attack, when the ball didn't hit the turf, was clicking on all cylinders.
Gobbato racked up 301 yards on 30 carries despite being pulled midway through the third in favor of backup running back Cole Muder, who rushed for 188 yards on 19 carries. Kramme gave Blaine three 100 yard-plus rushers, running the ball 13 times for 103 yards.
"They are a good group," Dodd said of his offensive line. "We have had a couple injuries, so we've went with some different combinations up front. You have to give those guys credit. They are playing solid."
Palmer Sandel, Jon Fakkema, Dwayne Ortega, James Fakkema and Miguel Ramos were Blaine's front five responsible for the Borderites' 599 yards on the ground.
Despite the gaping holes, Bellingham made clutch stops when it needed to, and quarterback Justin Pruett's 320 yards passing helped the Red Raiders hang with Blaine the entire game.
An interception in the end zone by Bellingham's Noah Silverman, who had two picks in the game, and a Gobbato fumble inside the Red Raiders' 5-yard line on Blaine's first two possessions helped Bellingham build an early 7-2 lead.
Pruett ran for a 43-yard TD around the right end to put Bellingham on top midway through the first quarter.
Gobbato scored on a 7-yard run and added a two-point conversion to put Blaine back in front 10-7 two minutes later, but Pruett answered with a TD pass to tight end Nicholas Estrada early in the second to give Bellingham a 14-10 lead.
Blaine added a score before the half, and Gobbato added his second TD of the game 38 seconds into the second half to take a 24-14 lead.
When it looked like Blaine was finally going to wear down Bellingham, Pruett started finding wide receiver Kyle Redmond.
Pruett found Redmond for a 48-yard score and again hit Redmond, who finished with seven grabs for 189 yards, for a 32-yard TD to cut Blaine's lead to 30-28.
Gobbato's third TD with 8 minutes, 21 seconds left in the fourth put Blaine in front 36-28. Pruett led the Red Raiders down to Blaine's 14-yard line on the following possession, but Bellingham couldn't pick up a first down on a fourth-and-2 with 2:55 left in the game.
"I was proud of our defense," Dodd said. "Our O-line grinded it out, and we never gave up. I'm proud of that."
Pruett passed for three TDs and ran for one to go with his 320 yards passing.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
Blaine 10 6 8 12- 36
Bellingham 7 7 7 7- 28
Bla - Safety
Bel - Justin Pruett 43 run (Kaleb Smartt kick)
Bla - Mario Gobbato 7 run (Gobbato run)
Bel - Nicholas Estrada 4 pass from Pruett (Smartt kick)
Bla - Brett Allen 3 pass from Nate Kramme (run failed)
Bla - Gobbato 25 run (Allen pass from Kramme)
Bel - Kyle Redmond 48 pass from Pruett (Smartt kick)
Bla - Kramme 11 run (pass failed)
Bel - Redmond 32 pass from Pruett (Smartt kick)
Bla - Gobbato 10 run (run failed)
First downs 28 14
Rushing Att-Yards 64-599 17-86
Comp-Att-Int 6-12-3 21-41-1
Passing yards 51 320
Penalties-yards 4-45 3-15
Fumbles-lost 4-3 3-0
RUSHING - Blaine: Mario Gobbato 30-301, Cole Muder 19-188, Nate Kramme 13-103, Isaiah Jackson 2-7. Bellingham: Marques Reynolds 8-26, Justin Pruett 4-67, Melvin Deal 5-(-7).
PASSING - Blaine: Nate Kramme 6-12-3-51. Bellingham: Justin Pruett 21-41-1-320.
RECEIVING - Blaine: Brett Allen 2-26, Isaiah Jackson 2-12, Cole Muder 1-9, Tas Scanlan 1-4. Bellingham: Kyle Redmond 7-189, Nicholas Estrada 5-32, Darice Haywood 3-49, Marques Reynolds 3-27, Melvin Deal 1-3, Austin Bavaro 1-9, Cyrus Davies 1-11.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.